School life in a construction zoneCANNON FALLS -- A construction zone isn't an ideal learning environment. The noise, dust and clutter can distract young minds.
By: Jon Swedien, The Republican Eagle
CANNON FALLS -- A construction zone isn't an ideal learning environment. The noise, dust and clutter can distract young minds.
But that can be overcome, Cannon Falls High School students and faculty are learning as they study and work in a school doubling as a construction site.
The school district as a whole is undergoing vast makeover this year. The residents of Cannon Falls approved the $21.2 million project in a November 2007 referendum. Construction on the high school began last May and is scheduled to wrap Sept. 1, Supt. Todd Sesker said.
"It entails just about every piece of our campus," Sesker said of the project.
Among the scheduled improvements are upgrading the school's ventilation system, adding a new auditorium and field house, revamping the locker rooms and improving classrooms.
In the meantime. students and educators are doing their best to ignore the sounds of saws and loud banging, the strange smells and irritating dust and any number of other inconveniences the construction imposes.
Sometimes the inconveniences are small things.
Junior Kendra Boyle says it seems there's always a ladder blocking the hallway. Or the closest bathroom is out of commission and a student has to walk to the other side of the school, junior Rachel Brage said, making the student late for class.
And there are the random noises.
"It's like living next an airport," Math teacher Bucky Lindow said.
Recently, the boys and girls locker rooms have been moved, and for a few weeks the hallway by the boys transitional locker room smelled overwhelmingly of body spray, Boyle said.
Other times, distractions have been bigger.
Like when the heating wasn't working quite right in the winter. Or when teachers play musical classrooms, switching mid-quarter to allow for remodeling.
Although that can be a blessing, Phy-Ed./Health teacher Kathy Illa said.
"From a teachers standpoint its good to clean out your room" now and again, Illa said.
School administrators also moved to different locations to accommodate construction.
Yet despite the annoyances, the students and faculty say they're excited by what the new facilities promise.
After getting a sneak peak at the new 31,000-square-foot field house complete with an indoor track, Illa said, "It's like Christmas."
"It's been really cool to see the progress," agreed Boyle, who said things seemed to move slow at first but are now starting to pick up.
Even senior Kelly Kusilek, who won't be around to enjoy the new facilities, said she's happy to see the improvements come along.
"I think it's been worth it. Yeah it's been cold or it smells or it's dusty but it's worth it," she said, adding she'll attend Winona State University next year where she understands the campus will be under construction.
Dave Davison, Cannon Falls School District's head of building and grounds, has been the project's point man. He said work is on schedule and should be completed by the end of August.
"It's been crazy. It's been busy every day," Davison said. "As far as the students and the staff, I can't say enough. They've taken it in stride."